If you're a blogger, the question “How can I get more traffic?” is probably on your mind a lot. It takes a ton of work getting those first 20 visitors and turning them into 200 or 2,000 visitors. But while the traffic question is definitely an important one, it's not always the most important one. Before trying to get more readers, every blogger should be able to confidently answer these six important, investigative questions first.
WHO are you talking to?
I wrote a more detailed treatment of this question in the blog post “Choosing Your Target Audience” but it's definitely a topic worth touching on again. It doesn't matter how much traffic you're getting if the people you want to read your blog aren't reading it. And if you're not sure who you're talking to, how can you adequately speak to them? Put another way, if your ideal reader stumbles upon your blog, will they know you're writing for them? Before working to get that big traffic boost, think about who you want reading your blog. Then, do everything you can to make sure that when that person arrives, there's lots of content to keep them engaged and coming back for more.
WHAT is someone's first impression when they visit your blog?
First impressions matter a LOT, and you don't always have the luxury of a second chance when it comes to your website. Before you ask for that rush of visitors, make sure your blog is ready to receive them. Is your design cluttered? Are pages hard to navigate? Is your website slow? Are there a lot of broken links? Is your text easy to read? Are you regularly updating your site? On the internet, the greatest gift someone can give you is their attention. So make sure your blog is worth their consideration. The best time to get your site ready for a lot of traffic is before you get a lot of traffic.
WHEN should you publish and promote your posts?
Bloggers with consistently high traffic are almost always really passionate about testing and research. Getting visitors to your site shouldn't be an accident and it shouldn't be left up to chance. Be proactive by looking at the data. Research when you should publish your posts, both on your blog and on social media platforms. Try posting at different times, targeting different audiences, or using different words. Teach yourself split-testing (a blogger's best friend). Taking the time to crunch the numbers helps ensure that you'll always be in touch with where your traffic comes from, and that you'll always have in ideas in mind for how to make it better later.
WHERE are your readers?
Literally. This question connects to the “Who?” and “When?” questions above, but digging into your site demographics is so important that the “Where?” question gets its own paragraph too. Are you writing for readers in one country when most of your readers live in another? Are you writing for readers in large cities when most of your readers are in the suburbs or rural areas? Are you publishing your posts at a time that works for most of your readers, even if they live in different time zones? Are you referencing stores your readers can shop at and styling outfits appropriate to their climate? Are you using the right slang (after all, words which are just fine in one language can be incredibly offensive in another). Having a sense of where people are coming from helps you avoid being taken by surprise.
WHY should people read your blog?
If you're skimming this article, and you only have time to read one section, make it this one. The mantra of, “If you build it, they will come” doesn't apply anymore, and it hasn't for a long time. There are millions of blogs out there, and hundreds of thousands of fashion blogs (not to mention all the other social media platforms and forums people can spend their free time on). If you want people to pay attention to your site in particular, they need a reason to visit you specifically. It is absolutely time well-spent to come up with what that reason is. Are you helping people? Making them laugh? Giving them something to think about? This is important because the honest truth is, if you don't know why people should read your blog, no one else is going to know either. Approach this like a 4 year old: ask yourself why, come up with an answer, then ask yourself why again. Keep doing this until you run out of answers.
HOW will you plan ahead?
As fashion bloggers, we're in an industry that's all about getting caught up in the moment. Fashion is inherently fast-paced and transient, and it can be easy to get caught up in that mindset and forget to think ahead. And when that happens, you're not running your blog anymore…it's running you. Plan ahead. Formulate a 12 month strategy so you have a sense of goals that need to be reached. Schedule breaks and vacations so you don't get burned out or overwhelmed. Develop a moderation, comment, and social media policy before you get a lot of activity so you already know how you'll respond to situations that come up. Do a brand audit of yourself and see if you're doing or saying things now that could turn out to be a problem when you have more readers. Have a plan in place in case your website crashes or gets hacked. Have some ideas about how you'll accommodate changes in your own lifestyle, personality, or relationship status. Whatever form it takes, planning ahead, before you get a lot of traffic, is so important.
What are the questions you think bloggers should ask themselves before thinking about more traffic? Do you have any advice for getting more visitors or for making your website traffic-friendly?
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